Audi will unveil its new Skysphere concept car at Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, complete with a variable wheelbase the company says changes it from a GT to a sports car and back again at the touch of a button.
The Skysphere is a two-seat roadster that introduces a new family of concepts that will “lead directly to the Audi design of tomorrow.”
Built around an EV powertrain, autonomous driving capability, and a high-tech interior, the Skysphere’s wheelbase can be altered by 250 mm thanks to a rocker panel attached to the car’s front clip that slides under the body just ahead of the rear wheels.
At its shortest, the car measures 4,940 mm in sport mode, and stretches to 5,190 mm when the driver selects grand touring mode, which also engages the car’s Level 4 self-driving capability, stowing the pedals and steering wheel to create an interior with comfort and space reminiscent of first-class air travel.
Large touchscreens spanning the dash handle the Skysphere’s vehicle and infotainment controls and work as entertainment displays in the car’s self-driving GT mode. Smaller touch surfaces in the door panels control the HVAC system.
Audi says the Skysphere’s styling was inspired by the 1930s Horch 853, a now-rare classic produced by one of the companies that would eventually be merged into Audi.
In the Skysphere’s trunk are two golf bags designed to fit just so. Behind the two seats is a battery Audi says will boast at least 80 kWh of capacity, which will drive a rear-mounted motor good for nearly 625 hp and more than 550 lb-ft of torque, at least 500 km of range (according to the generous WLTP standard), and a zero-to-100-km/h time of 4.0 seconds.
Variable air suspension and fully electronic steering change the Skysphere’s on-road characteristics according to whether the car is driving itself or a human is operating the steering wheel and pedals.
The Skysphere’s debut follows Audi’s reveal of the Grandsphere earlier this summer – said to point to a successor to the A8 luxury sedan – and next year, Audi says it will reveal the Urbansphere to complete its trio of futuristic concepts.